HubSpot is a popular SaaS business solution because it increases efficiencies in marketing, sales, and customer service. Their tools are designed to make your teams’ job roles easier to do, while at the same time elevating the customer experience.
Yet, as with everything else that’s worth anything in life, it comes with a learning curve. There are so many features and functionalities. Some may feel more intuitive than others — until you get the hang of them, then wonder how you ever ran your business without them.
One of its most valuable tools is the lifecycle. Thanks to it, you are better positioned to determine how to best serve your customers as they move through the flywheel model. This includes the attracting your audience stage, engaging them, and delighting them.
When you keep your contacts database within HubSpots customer relationship management (CRM) system, all of them are automatically categorized into one of eight lifecycle stages.
This organization system makes it a lot easier to better serve them based on their specific needs. For example, subscribers are at the top of the sales funnel. As such, they would likely be more enticed to read educational blog posts while they do preliminary research, or maybe download an ebook to get a more in-depth understanding on a specific topic. Yet, someone who’s already spent a good amount of time looking at their options (such as a sales qualified lead) is at a stage where requesting a demo or a free trial would be more useful.
By separating your contacts into a specific lifecycle stage, you can nurture those leads with content that’s relevant to them — and thus increase the likelihood of turning them into customers and retaining them long-term.
There are eight default lifecycle stages on HubSpot, and the platform categorizes contacts automatically based on actions they’ve taken when engaging with your business:
These are people who have opted to receive regular communications from you. This can be in the form of a blog or newsletter subscription.
Leads are contacts who have engaged with you beyond subscribing to your content. For Example, someone who has filled out an online form to download some of your more extensive content.
MQLs are marketing qualified leads. These are people who have engaged with some of your marketing campaigns — such as clicking on PPC ads or watched a video tutorial, but are not quite ready yet to make a purchase. But they keep visiting your website and opening your marketing emails, so keep courting them.
An SQL is a sales qualified lead. These are prospects who have expressed their interest to speak with someone in your sales department. This could be through scheduling a discovery call or submitting an online form requesting additional information.
Opportunities are people who’ve already spoken with your sales department and it’s very likely that they will become a customer. You can also gauge a person’s interest based on their lead score — which is yet another really cool HubSpot feature.
This one is pretty obvious. Customers are the rad people who’ve realized how much value you provide to their lives, so they’ve signed on that dotted line and closed the deal. You’ve reached this huge milestone. Now it’s time to delight them.
Evangelists are customers and former customers who are so delighted with your services, that they tell everyone in their network about you. Shout it from the rooftops. Send you referrals. Leave you raving reviews. Give you even more social proof to show prospects how great you really are.
Sometimes, people are just floating around the interwebs, not fitting neatly into any of the above stages. They haven’t engaged with you yet, but somehow ended up on your contacts database. Give it time.
HubSpot also has a nifty feature called lead status. It lets you keep track of which actions have been completed by your sales team when engaging with an SQL. For example, whether they’ve attempted to contact them, they have been unqualified, communications are still in progress, or the attempted reach out was during bad timing so they’ll try again.
So while on the surface, it may seem like a lead status may be interchangeable with a life cycle stage, it’s a component that fits specifically within one of the latter cycle stages.
Using lifecycles optimizes your business processes in several ways:
1. Automated Triggers
Once you set up your lifecycle stages, prospects automatically receive targeted communications as they move through the cycles. This is crucial, since in a world of instant gratification, moving fast is everything.
2. Personalized Service
Prospects will be more likely to engage with you if what you’re sending them is relevant to them: what they want, what they need, and what they prefer. And it’s not just about the content. You can set your settings based on the device they’re reading the content from, their preferred language, and referral sources.
When you know how many people are at each stage of the sales funnel, you can determine whether your marketing efforts are being effective — and thus whether you’ll be able to hit your quarterly revenue goals. In turn, this helps you plan ahead regarding whether you need to launch new campaigns or try different reaching out approaches.
Yes. Of course. You can customize anything on HubSpot. The whole point is not to treat customers like they’re interchangeable; so they would most certainly not do it to you.
Ok. So this is a new feature that recently went live (as of March 31, 2022). But it exists. And it’s helpful. Albeit it’s in beta testing right now, so you’ll have to reach your Customer Success Manager to gain early access. You can also reach out to us for more information, since we’re a HubSpot Elite partner agency, and we’d love to walk you through this cool new feature.
While lifecycle stages exist in every business regardless of industry, what makes a prospect fall into each of them varies depending on your target market. When creating lifecycle stages on HubSpot, make sure to implement the following practices:
Develop a Buyer Persona
This applies to pretty much anything you do in your business: launching a new marketing campaign, designing lead nurturing emails, or promoting a new product or service. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. To narrow this down, you want to conduct thorough market research. You want to know their age range, their job titles, the industries they work in, their responsibilities, pain points, apprehensions, where they are most likely to read news from, preferred social media channels, preferred methods of communication, what kind of information they’d need to help them make a decision on a product or service.
Identifying the lifecycle stages requires being thoroughly acquainted with the sales process at your company. What are the first touchpoints? Subscribing to your newsletter? Downloading a lead magnet? Enrolling in a webinar? Requesting a demo? Scheduling a call with a sales rep? Once you flesh it all out, make a list of all of the stages you will include in your HubSpot lifecycles.
Analyze Each Stage
What kind of scenarios make a website visitor take a particular action? What makes them move along their buyer’s journey? Do they first browse through your site, read a few blogs, then fill out an online form to get access to additional content? Think of each step of the way as they move along their customer journey, so that you can determine with specificity what kind of triggers moves them along to the next stage in the lifecycle.
Create Workflows That Trigger Each Stage
One of the coolest features on HubSpot is automation. You don’t need to keep track of certain actions for something else to occur. When you create workflows, you can establish each step of a process (e.g. sending a segment of contacts certain drip campaign emails, abandoned cart reminders, or anything else that should trigger the next communication). This ensures that prospects are followed up with in a timely manner.
Offer an Omnichannel Experience
The best way to make prospects happy is to make things as easy as possible for them. If they gave you their information while filling out a landing page form, use it to their advantage. Let’s say someone started taking an online quiz to find out which of your services would help them the most. Don’t just have the results pop up on the screen. Email them a copy, text them a reminder of next actionable steps, or have a team member reach out to them to ask them how they can better help them.
Personalize Content Based on Each Stage
The entire raison d’être of lifecycle stages is to give prospects exactly what they need. A first time website visitor and a repeat customer aren’t going to be swayed by the same cookie-cutter content. Your number one priority should always be to be as customer-centric as possible. What would be most helpful to them? What would delight them and want to reach out to you again? Is it a free sample? Is it a How To guide? Whatever would be useful to them right now is what you should be doing. Craft your content around that.
Provide Self-Service Options
Some people love a lot of hand holding. Others prefer to delegate tasks while they are busy doing something else. Then there are those who like to just look things up and figure them out themselves. While this approach isn’t ideal for every single stage in a lifecycle, it’s highly useful for people conducting research or existing customers who are looking for a quick answer. You can use HubSpot’s knowledge base software to create a resource library, including video tutorials, case studies, white papers, discussion forums, manuals, or even an online search bar. You can opt to make this available only to people in specific stages of the lifecycle.
Establish a Frictionless Sales Process
Following the same training of thought of people who like to have more control over their research process, others want to go online, make a purchase, and go on about their day. No need to call a sales rep, email with inquiries, or play around on your site to figure out how to buy something. Make things as smooth as possible for everyone by including pricing information and a native payment option right there on your site for people who are ready to become customers.
Provide Extraordinary Customer Support
Customer support is the backbone of every business. Treat them poorly, and even if you sell the Holy Grail, they’ll go buy a chalice from someone else. Make it easy for people to reach out to you. You can come up with different methods depending on where on the sales cycle they are — maybe a community forum and a knowledge base for the early stages, live chat as they start to engage with you, and phone support later on. Or all at once. It’s up to you. Just don’t leave them frustrated as they try to find a way to get their answers.
Ask For Customer Feedback
Analytics are a great way to identify insights as to what’s working and what needs to be modified. But asking for customer feedback is one of the most effective ways to (a) let them know that you value their opinion, and (b) get additional information that won’t show up on your KPI dashboards.
HubSpot is what choirs of angels sing about when you reach the gates of Heaven. But it comes with a learning curve, and you don’t know what you don’t know. Maximize your efforts and ROI by getting a free HubSpot audit. We’ll also send you a list of action steps to send you into the horizon with a roadmap to success.